Pornhub limits uploads and disables downloads after New York Times exposé

Pornhub has made significant changes to its content policies after a New York Times report detailed the damage done by nonconsensual videos posted to the platform, often involving underage girls.

In a statement today, Pornhub announced a new set of policies aimed at keeping nonconsensual videos off the site. Most significantly, the platform will no longer accept uploads from unidentified users, a significant shift for a company that built its platform on non-professional uploads. In the short term, that will restrict uploads to content partners and members of the platform’s Model Program, although Pornhub plans to roll out a broader verification process for regular users in 2021.

Once content has been uploaded, Pornhub will block downloading content entirely, no longer allowing users to export content from the site outside of paid downloads triggered through the company’s verified system.

PornHub has also pledged to increase moderation of content currently on the platform through a newly established “Red Team,” dedicated to “proactively sweeping content already uploaded for potential violations and identifying any breakdowns in the moderation process.” The company has also pledged to publish its first transparency report in 2021, detailing the results of moderation from the previous year.

In its statement, Pornhub attributes the changes to an independent review launched in April, aimed at eliminating all illegal content from the platform. However, the move comes just four days after a searing New York Times report from Nicholas Kristof, which triggered a significant backlash against the company and its practices. The report highlighted a number of young girls who appeared in videos uploaded to Pornhub without their consent. Even after the videos were flagged and removed, downloaded copies continued to circulate, often with severe and alarming personal consequences.

In the wake of Kristof’s article, Pornhub’s business partners faced mounting pressure to cut ties with the platform — particularly payment processors like Visa and Mastercard.

Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, was outspoken in calling for the site to be shut down. “Companies like Visa and MasterCard who partner with Pornhub are also profiting from the rape of children,” Hawkins said in a statement after the piece was published.

Reacting to the changes on Twitter, Kristof seemed cautiously optimistic. “A great deal depends on how responsibly Pornhub implements these, and it hasn’t earned my trust at all, but these seem significant,” he wrote. “A great deal will also depend on whether past content, already on the site, is vetted or removed.”

Pornhub did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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